The Gamblers Consumer Forum call upon gamblers to write to their MP about the behaviour of the Gambling Commission

Following on from the Westminster Hall debate on affordability checks, The Gamblers Consumer Forum have produced a letter to lobby MPs on the failings of the Gambling Commission. The letter below illustrates a range of actions which demonstrates where they have overreached or failed as a regulator. We urge you to copy and paste the following letter and write to your MP.

You can find your MP here  and write to them via this website https://www.writetothem.com/

‘Dear MP

I am writing to bring your attention to significant concerns about the behaviour of the Gambling Commission.

The Commission, as you may know, is currently planning to institute low level caps on how much adults will be allowed to bet before facing a range of affordability checks. These checks represent an invasion of privacy as well as an incursion on consumer freedom. This will result in the growth of the black market as consumers switch their betting to either non-UK unregulated bookmakers or unlicenced bookmakers with the UK through the use or messaging services in order to preserve their freedoms.

I would like to draw your attention to the following specific aspects of the Gambling Commission’s behaviour:

  • After more than three years, it has still not released the results of a survey of the attitudes towards affordability checks of more than 12,000 consumers – undertaken as part of its 2020 call for evidence. It has refused a request for the publication of these survey results, claiming that there is ‘no public interest’ to support their release.
  • It has suppressed its own research (conducted in 2019 by 2CV), showing widespread opposition to affordability checks by consumers.
  • The Commission has already instituted a system of informal affordability checks by stating in its annual Compliance and Enforcement Report that, “customers wishing to spend more than the national average should be asked to provide information to support a higher affordability trigger such as three months’ payslips, P60s, tax returns or bank statements”.
  • The Commission and its advisers have become political in their approach and repeatedly expressed anti-gambling sentiments. In 2022, the Commission published its view that spending money on betting rather than the cinema and other entertainments was, in itself harmful. It has also claimed (without providing any evidence) that “greater harms are experienced by” non-problem gamblers compared with problem gamblers. This is whilst continuing to turn a blind eye to National Lottery products such as scratchcards as they are deemed to provide money for good causes
  • It endorsed a report by Public Health England on economic costs of gambling despite knowing that it was inaccurate. The report was subsequently withdrawn but the Commission has never admitted the suppression of its opinion (which was revealed by a Freedom of Information Act request).
  • It has provided financial support for a number of explicitly anti-gambling activist groups; and failed to take any action where these organizations have breached the rules for funding.
  • According to a recent report, the Gambling Commission has repeatedly breached the provisions of the Regulators’ Code.

The Gamblers Consumer Forum has called for an independent review of the informal system of affordability checks and the evidence presented in support of the Gambling Commission’s proposals, and the immediate release of the suppressed 2021 survey of bettor attitudes towards affordability checks. Evidence shows blanket regulation of this nature fails to achieve its objectives as will as the fact it is completely untested and numerous informed figures believe frictionless checks to be an impossible aspiration.

If you would like further information, please email contact@gamblersconsumerforum.com

It is critical that the Gambling Commission’s behaviour be subjected to robust scrutiny before it is allowed to expand its illiberal and economically and culturally damaging policy agenda. I would urge you to forward this letter to DCMS, HM Treasury and the Department for BEIS.

Thank you in anticipation of your support.’

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